The city of Antwerp will open its own "test village" where up to 4,000 people per day can go to get tested for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) from next week.
With the "test village," the city wants to relieve the burden on the regular test centres, general practitioners and labs. The new testing centre is only meant for people without symptoms, and should be operational as early as next week.
The village will be installed on the former railway site Spoor Oost, in the municipality of Borgerhout, and is available to everyone living in the city of Antwerp or one of the surrounding districts.
"Actually, we are talking about a test street, a kind of drive-in where you can go on foot, by bike or by car, and where you can be tested in safe conditions," said Antwerp alderman Fons Duchateau. "Important: it is only meant for people without symptoms," he added.
"For people who have been abroad, for example, or who have been in contact with an infected person, but do not show any symptoms," Duchateau said. "Those who do have symptoms, should absolutely continue to go through their family doctor," he added.
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Inhabitants wanting to get tested have to register on the website, which will be ready in a few days, first. "Based on several criteria, you may or may not get the green light to come to our test point," Duchateau said, adding that a test is free of charge.
As the situation in Antwerp is worrying, the City Council wants to intervene as soon as possible. "For several days now we have been receiving signals from GPs, triage points and emergency services that they are running into the limits of their test capacity," Duchateau said.
"By setting up a test point ourselves, we hope to relieve the burden on the regular test circuit and the labs as quickly as possible," he added. Between 500 and 4,000 tests could be carried out every day, depending on what is necessary.
All samples will be processed by a new lab of the University of Antwerp. The new test point should be operational as early as next week.
The Brussels Times